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Villanova University and Catholic Relief Services Colloquium to Address "Gender and Justice: A Global Humanitarian and Development Perspective"

April 18 Event Open to Public Looks at Grassroots Efforts to Prevent Gender-Based Violence, Promote Development

VILLANOVA, Pa. – Sexual violence as well as the trafficking and enslavement of women, girls and boys are brutal crimes committed against some of society’s most vulnerable populations. Finding ways to prevent sexual-based violence, promote gender equality, reduce poverty, and meet the complex needs of survivors will be the focal point of an April 18 colloquium, titled “Gender and Justice: A Global Humanitarian and Development Perspective,” held at Villanova University.

The two-part program will be held in The Villanova Room of The Connelly Center, located on the University’s main campus. The colloquium is free and open to the public. It is co-sponsored by the University Partnership with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and Villanova University’s Gender and Women’s Studies Program.

The colloquium will begin with an afternoon session (4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.), titled “Responding to Sexual and Gender-based Violence in Humanitarian Crises.” Francisca Vigaud-Walsh, CRS’ Technical Advisor in Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), will talk about CRS’ SGBV programming in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Haiti and elsewhere. Vigaud-Walsh brings more than a decade of grassroots experience addressing SGBV in humanitarian crises.

The evening session (7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.), titled “Global Poverty Reduction and the Gender Lens,” will feature Carrie Miller, CRS’ Senior Technical Advisor for Health and HIV. Miller will speak about CRS’ approach to development programming, highlighting some of the agency’s most successful gender-responsive programming in health, HIV, agriculture, and microfinance, and will share the impact of agency programming with adolescent girls.

“It is widely held today that promoting gender equality is the most efficient and effective means of reducing poverty and promoting development. USAID, The World Bank, the Gates Foundation and other international funding agencies now require that gender analysis and gender assessment be integrated into development and poverty reduction programming,” said Suzanne Toton, Ed.D., Associate Professor of Theology and Religious Studies, and organizer of Villanova’s Gender and Justice Colloquium.

According to CRS, it is estimated that 70 percent of the world’s 1.3 billion poor people are women while, concurrently, one of every four households worldwide is headed by a woman.

“Gender-based-violence is so repugnant that many prefer to turn away from or not take too close a look at it. Villanova and CRS have joined together to discover means by which this terrible injustice to those most in need of societal protection can be eliminated,” Toton added.

CRS’ “Gender: The Key to Successful Development Planning,” published in March 2010, cites the following about gender-based violence.

  • The root causes of gender-based violence lie in social and cultural gender norms – the roles, responsibilities, limitations, privileges and opportunities assigned to people based on their gender.
  • One of the extreme manifestations of gender inequality is gender-based violence. The United Nations reports that at least one in three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused on the basis of gender in her lifetime.
  • For every act of gender-based violence, there is a survivor and perpetrator. Gender programming must not become monopolized by a focus on women, but understand the role of men and masculinity, and the impact that gender norms and relations has on men and women as well as boys and girls.

Click here for more information about the Gender and Justice Colloquium.

About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's five colleges – the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing and the Villanova University School of Law. As students grow intellectually, Villanova prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them.